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This annual award honours a CAPO/ACOP member who, in the opinion of the Awards Committee and the Board of Directors of the association, has made exceptional and enduring career contributions to psychosocial oncology. Prior to 2010 this award was called the CAPO Award of Excellence.
Gina MacKenzie has been a Social Worker for the past 40 years – almost 35 years in oncology at the BC Cancer Agency. She has been in a Clinical Coordinator/Practice Leader role since 1988 and in 2011 accepted the Provincial Director and Practice Leader position for Psychosocial Oncology. She led the development of the Patient and Family Counselling program at the Fraser Valley Centre and was involved in the planning and design of the new cancer centres in Abbotsford and Prince George, including Patient and Family Counselling at those locations.
She has been passionate about improving access to counselling services and care. This led to the development of the first interpreter program for people with cancer at the Agency, which is now available province wide. She has also led the development of web based programs for people with cancer, their families and health care professionals including the coping with cancer section on the Agency website, the Cancerinmyfamily.ca website for children when a family member is diagnosed with cancer and more recently Facts4Teens. She provided administrative support for CancerChatCanada when it was hosted and operated by the Agency and currently is involved with colleagues to develop courses online for new staff and community Social Workers. This passion also led to participating in the development of CAPO’s “Start the Talk”.
In the late 1990s, she became interested in distress screening and led the first pilot of a psychosocial screening program at the BC Cancer Agency. This pilot led to the development of a screening instrument which is part of the new patient consultation process provincially and currently is working with a team to use an electronic format.
Gina values ongoing learning and has been involved with CAPO conferences in Vancouver numerous times, either as a member of the planning committee or Chair. She was a member of the CAPO Education committee and a Board Member. She led the program in developing a Psychosocial Oncology Graduate level course which clinicians in the program co-taught at the UBC School of Social Work prior to the availability of IPODE courses.
In the past two years, she has increased the number of Psychiatrists and recruited the BC Cancer Agency’s first Provincial Professional Practice Leader for Psychiatry. She feels most fortunate to work with clinicians and practice leaders who are highly motivated to provide excellent care and open to possibilities for innovative practice.
This award is made to recognize individuals who, in the opinion of the Awards Committee and the Board of Directors of the association, have made significant contributions to clinical excellence in the field of psychosocial oncology in Canada.
Sarah Sample has worked as a clinical oncology social worker for over 23 years, and has been Professional Practice Leader for Patient and Family Counseling at the Vancouver site of the BC Cancer Agency since 2011. She chairs the BCCA Lymphoid Cancer Education Planning Committee and her work has been recognized by a Lymphoma Foundation of Canada Appreciation of Clinical Contribution to Lymphoma Patients and Families Award. She is also the treasurer of the BC Mindfulness- Based Stress Reduction Society and developed the BCCA Mindfulness- Based Stress Reduction course over 15 years ago.
Sarah is passionate about helping patients and is known to put aside her impressive titles to cover on-call duties or even the reception desk if that’s what’s needed to best serve BCCA patients on a particular day. She is also able to think outside-the-box to champion the needs of underserved patient groups. For example, she created the first Lesbian Cancer Support Group at a Canadian cancer centre.
Fortunately, some of Sarah’s skills have been passed on to many as she has been a clinical supervisor for the UBC School of Social Work and Family Studies for over 15 years and also supervises and teaches junior counselors. She has presented at CAPO and other conferences on topics including death anxiety, therapeutic touch, lesbian families affected by cancer, mindfulness, and young adults with cancer, and currently chairs the local organizing committee for CAPO 2017.
Sarah Sample is an outstanding model of innovative clinical leadership who is creating a growing legacy of clinical excellence in Psychosocial Oncology at the BCCA.
The CAPO Innovation Award honours the development of quality improvement and innovative clinical, educational, or organizational initiatives aimed at enhancing the performance of psychosocial cancer care or cancer prevention. Award submissions will be rated based on originality and scope, impact of initiative on processes, impact of initiative on stakeholders, meaningfulness, value for money and sustainability.
Dr. Carole Mayer is the Director of Research and Regional Psychosocial Oncology Lead of the Supportive Care Program at the Northeast Cancer Centre (NECC), Health Sciences North (HSN) in Sudbury, Ontario. She is also the Regional Lead for the Ontario Cancer Symptom Management Collaborative.
A social worker by discipline, she brings 30 years of health care experience with 27 years specializing in oncology.
Some of her achievements are leading: the implementation of Screening for Distress, 6th Vital Sign, for symptom management in 14 community chemotherapy clinics; new Models of Care for Breast and Colorectal Survivorship; the development of the Aboriginal Navigators’ roles in the cancer centre and hospital; Bridges to Better Breast Health, a breast health promotion campaign reaching over one million residents through multi-media. Establishing the need and developing one of the first Breast Diagnostic Clinics in Ontario. A founding member and advisor to the Circle of Strength, Sudbury Beast Cancer Support Group. Working collaboratively to develop and evaluate the use of the Ontario Telemedicine Network. Fostering and sustaining psychosocial/supportive care oncology programming.
Dr. Mayer says: “It has been more than a career; it is a commitment and passion for developing unique programming that best meets the needs of people affected by cancer living in urban, rural and remote communities across North- East Ontario. Of course I could not do this work without the wonderful team I work with”.
The CAPO Early Career Investigator Award honours a new investigator for outstanding contributions to research in the field of psychosocial oncology. Candidates must be within seven years of completing their postgraduate, fellowship or equivalent specialist training (defined as a PhD or MD or equivalent). Recipients are distinguished by the level and quality of research output at this early career stage.
Jennifer Brunet (PhD) is an Assistant Professor at the School of Human Kinetics at the University of Ottawa, a Research Member at the Institut de recherche de l’Hôpital Montfort, and an Affiliate Researcher at the Ottawa Hospital Research Institute. Recognizing that physical activity is a key component for successful cancer prevention and treatment, her research goal is to reduce the growing burden of cancer in Canada through physical activity by producing findings of high scientific and applied merit.
She has conducted a series of projects to identify correlates and antecedents of physical activity behavior among people with cancer, as well as identify the mechanisms and processes by which these correlates and antecedents affect physical activity behavior (e.g., mediation and moderation effects) in order to enhance understanding and advanced knowledge of how to increase physical activity behavior. Consequently, she has used this knowledge to inform and design interventions aimed at changing physical activity behavior to enhance the quality of life of people with cancer and lessen the likelihood of them dying from cancer. She has also been involved in a number of projects aimed at testing the effectiveness of physical activity for people with cancer and developing evidence-based materials and guidelines to share knowledge that supports people in making healthy choices that will help them recover from cancer. For example, as a member of a working group facilitated by Cancer Care Ontario’s Program in Evidence-Based Care, she recently helped develop exercise guidelines for people with cancer to help bridge the gap between research and practice. In 2014, she was the recipient of the Charles Polanyi Prize in Medicine for her collective work in physical activity and cancer.
Jennifer is also dedicated to building capacity and expertise in the area of physical activity and cancer. Thus, she co-founded and co-directs the Psychosocial Oncology Group with Dr. Sophie Lebel at the University of Ottawa. The goal of the group is to create an active, knowledge-sharing, dynamic, and collaborative environment that inspires novel and practical research. Further, it is a place where researchers, health care providers, and trainees can engage in research-related activities and discussions focused on psychosocial oncology.
Dr. Sylvie Lambert is Assistant Professor at the Ingram School of Nursing, McGill University since August 2013. Dr. Lambert is also a Research Associate, St. Mary’s Research Centre. Her research focuses on 1) better understanding the substantial impact of a cancer diagnosis on patients’ and their caregivers’ well-being and functioning, 2) developing and evaluating illness self-management interventions that are sustainable to enhance translation in practice, 3) addressing the challenges of using patient reported outcomes in intervention programs, and the use of advanced psychometric approaches for improving the precision and efficiency of outcome evaluations.
Prior to entering the Psychosocial Oncology field in 2002, Dr. Lambert worked at the ICU. Even then, she was interested in how individuals cope and wanted to learn more in that area. Later, she joined McGill University as a graduate student under Dr. Carmen Loiselle’s supervision and completed her doctorate (2002 -2008). She completed her Postdoctoral training at the University of Newcastle under the supervision of Prof. Afaf Girgis (2009 – 2011). During this time she managed Australia’s first longitudinal study on the wellbeing of partners and caregivers, which documented the impact of caring for or living with a cancer survivor over the first five years following the initial diagnosis. After her postdoctoral studies, she joined the Translational Cancer Research Unit, Ingham Institute for Applied Medical Research, University of New South Wales as National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) Research Fellow (2011 – 2013) and became particularly interested in developing interventions for cancer caregivers. Her team developed and tested Coping-Together – a self-directed coping skills training intervention for patients with cancer and their spouse caregivers. She considers the development of Coping-Together as one of her greatest achievement.
Since Dr Lambert has returned to Canada she has continued to focus on developing and testing sustainable coping skills and self-management interventions for patients with cancer and their caregivers. She recently received funding from Prostate Cancer Canada to develop a web-based home-based exercise program and psychosocial self-management intervention for men with prostate cancer and their caregivers. She also plans to expand her research around patients and caregivers with low literacy and culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds.
Dr. Lambert acknowledges the support of Dr. Afaf Girgis, as she laid the foundation for her research career, helped her refine her research interests, mentored her in areas on how to initiate and manage a research study and more importantly how to become an independent researcher. She also recognizes Dr. Carmen Loiselle, as she accepted her as a graduate student and helped her enter the field. She stated “without them I wouldn’t be where I am today”.
When asked what she enjoys the most about her job, she said “I love what I do”. She admits that she feels that she is able to make a make a difference for patients and their families. Teaching and mentoring is another aspect of her work that she loves and is currently supervising nine graduate students (seven masters and 2 PhD) and teaching a course “Learning and Health Education”.
She stated “Psychosocial Oncology field is growing and in the right direction. More and more people are entering the field, and the Psychosocial issues are being valued by all – clinicians, researchers, patients and caregivers. We need to be innovative and find ways to address the issues, needs and understand what people really want”.
Dr. Lambert is a CAPO member because it is an arena where she can meet other researchers and clinicians in the field. The conference is a great opportunity to liaise with colleagues, and learn about their research. She particularly appreciates some of the new services, including the newsletter, Sosido, and profiling of the members. She wants to be more involved with the organization.
When asked what would be her advice to someone who is thinking about entering the profession, she said ‘The first step would be to find the mentor that matches your career interests and to find the research lab that meets your interests”.
Thanks to CAPO member and volunteer Dr. Violet D’Souza, University of Montreal, for writing this profile.
If you’re a current CAPO member and interested in being profiled, please contact the CAPO office with your name and email address.
Josée Charlebois is a social worker, currently working as an Intake Coordinator at the Ottawa Hospital Psychosocial Oncology Program (PSOP). She is part of the supportive cancer care team and is responsible for providing services to cancer patients and their family members.
Josée works with interdisciplinary healthcare professionals and is the point person for her colleagues in PSOP, as well as for other healthcare professionals within the clinic. Her day-to-day work involves crisis counselling for patients who receive cancer diagnoses. She meets with physicians and nurses, goes to the clinics, stops by if they need help, and helps in the best possible ways. She prioritizes the referrals received and makes referrals to appropriate resources that are available.
During her teen years, Josée lost her grandmother to cancer. She notes, “I saw her suffer and we suffered as a family. We could not help her, we did not know how to. There weren’t as many services or resources available as there are today, especially in the psychosocial side. There was no family support, no information concerning how to support the family member with cancer.” This personal cancer experience initiated Josée’s desire to change and improve the services for people with cancers. She wanted to make a difference to those who are affected by cancer.
Josée loves what she does at PSOP. When asked what she enjoyed most about her job, she said “No two days are the same and that is what I like about my work. I never know what to expect and that is the kind of environment I thrive in. The best part of my work is variety; I do different things every day. Although it can be challenging, it is also very rewarding.” She admits that another most rewarding and enjoyable attributes of her job is that she is able to make a positive impact on patients and their families. She stated “Although I cannot cure their cancer, I can make a difference in the lives of patients and their families. Knowing that I am contributing to the betterment in the lives of my patients makes me feel that my work is worthwhile.” Teaching is another thing that Josée really loves and she is able to pursue this at her current position. She is also involved in providing and developing patient education materials at The Ottawa Hospital and Cancer Care Ontario. Patient Navigation is another area that she is interested in and is looking to explore it further.
Josée considers developing and maintaining her Intake Position at PSOP to be one of her greatest accomplishments. She wants to continue to make a positive difference to the field in whatever possible way. Josée sees Diane Manii, the PSOP manager as a great mentor, good friend and the biggest influence in her career path. Diane encouraged her to develop knowledge and skills, helped her see the potential in her work and contributions to cancer care, and encouraged her to work hard while remembering to take care of herself. Josée stated “Diane gave me opportunities and believed in me and it has made me a stronger person. I wouldn’t be where I am today if it hadn’t been for her.”
She admits that the Psychosocial Oncology field is getting more attention; however, there is still much room for development and improvement. Josée recognizes that in the recent years numerous efforts are being directed to the field of Psychosocial Oncology to address the challenges that cancer families face in this fast-changing world. Her key learnings are “There is always something that we can make a difference in and getting involved is the first step. As a Psychosocial Oncology professional, we have to be involved in moulding the profession to cater to help those who are affected by cancer directly and indirectly.”
Josée emphasizes that “the Psychosocial Oncology is a field where you can make great friends and it really is a fulfilling line of work!” She acknowledges meeting amazing people in this field. Josée is a CAPO member and loves being part of it. She is interested in networking with likeminded people, and also in learning from those in her field. She sees CAPO as a resource arena with lots of opportunities for both personal and professional growth in the field of Psychosocial Oncology. Joining CAPO is another outlet in which Josée believes she can make a difference.
When asked what would be her advice to someone who is thinking about entering the profession, she argues that “Psychosocial Oncology is a hard line of work and is not a type of work for everyone. My suggestion is to always try it out before committing to this career. Try getting involved, doing some volunteer work, and talking to someone in the field prior to starting. People need to be invested and involved to fully contribute to the development of this field. They need to know themselves and know their limits.”
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